What Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. tells us about the heart of God

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This post includes massive spoilers for the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. I'm not talking about minor plot details, I'm talking BIG SPOILERY SPOILERS... secrets will be revealed. So don't read on if you haven't seen the film or don't want it to be ruined. Ready? Dive in.

Ego, Peter's father
Ego, Peter's father

In Guardians Vol 2. we finally get to meet Peter Quill AKA Starlord's father. We knew from the first film that he was a big deal, but we didn't know quite how big of a deal he would be (unless you read the comics, of course). It turns out that Peter's dad is a Celestial, a god-like figure, able to create matter from nothing. Going by the name of Ego, Peter's dad has been on a quest to create the perfect Celestial "child," and has impregnated women all over the galaxy. Peter is the result of this process, and Yondu was paid to collect him as he was paid to collect all the other children. But there's a catch... Ego is a maniac. He has killed every other one of his children when they each failed to access the Celestial power that he possesses and thus proved themselves useless.

What strikes me about this story is that Ego is a picture of what many of us think God is like. Kurt Russell provides a brilliant performance, presenting Ego as somewhat childish and starry-eyed, a being that came out of nothing, and was enraptured by the power of selfhood and the beauty of the universe. He seems kind and benevolent, simply smitten by the ecstasy of love that he encounters all of the galaxy. He runs around joyously showing Peter all the incredible things he has made. And yet... when things don't go his way, he becomes angry, wiping out cities and planets, and even sacrificing his own children. He has a master plan to wipe out all of the created universe and replace it with a perfected alternative focused on himself and his self-expression. Everything is about him.

Which sounds a bit like the idea of God destroying creation, sending everyone to hell who doesn't pass his test, and taking everyone who does pass away to Heaven where we worship him for all eternity.

Peter and "dad"
Peter and "dad"

In Guardians, Peter begins to realise that his father is a psycho, and the final straw comes when Ego reveals that he deliberately gave Peter's mother cancer, because his love for her was too much of a distraction from his plans. It's a painful moment, but it helps to show the most fundamental issue with this version of God. For our true God, we are not a distraction from his agenda; we are his agenda. Everything in creation, all of existence is purposed for the benefit of God's son, and for the Bride of God's son. Humanity itself is created in order to receive love, and then reciprocate love to the one that God the Father loves... his son. Our God is others-centered at all times, and the love that he pours out comes at great personal cost.

Which brings us back to Guardians of the Galaxy, because it turns out that there is someone in Peter's live who has modeled more of the characteristics of a true father. That would be Yondu, and at the end of the film he sacrifices himself in order that Peter may live and go on to pursue his destiny. Yondu is far from the perfect father figure, but by way of contrast he exposes the selfishness of Ego and the true nature of a father.

If you have grown up worshiping a self-centered God, one who demands your constant perfection and will kill you if you don't perform, then I have good news for you. You can forget about that guy, he's a deadbeat. There is a true God who loves you perfectly and endlessly and will pay every price necessary to reach you, rescue you, restore you, and set you up for hope, love and freedom. His son is named Jesus, and you can get to know God by looking at Jesus, because Jesus is the perfect image of God. If you let him, he'll make you into a perfected image of God as well, and he does all the work himself.

Unlike Ego, who makes you do it, and then kills you when you screw up.